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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 07:15 GMT 08:15 UK
Sainsbury's sales beat forecasts
Sainsbury's tills
Sainsbury's has been focusing on improving the shopping experience
Sainsbury's, the UK's third-largest supermarket chain, has reported a better-than-expected rise in sales for the January to March period.

Like-for-like sales - which strip out the impact of new store openings - excluding petrol were up by 5.3%.

In a trading update, Sainsbury's said customer numbers grew by more than one million during what it described as a "significant" quarter.

It was company's fifth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth.

The supermarket said that its "Making Sainsbury's Great Again" plan was on track, but added that there was still a long way to go.

The same-store sales growth figure was well above the market forecast range of 2.5% to 4%.

It was also an improvement on the 5.2% achieved in the Christmas quarter, traditionally the supermarket's strongest trading period.


The retailer's fortunes have been boosted by the success of its "Try Something New" campaign, the latest stage in chief executive Justin King's turnaround plan first launched in October 2004,

Customers are noticing the many improvements we have been making to our business
Justin King, Sainsbury's chief executive

Though it has dropped from first place in the supermarket league to third in recent years, it now seems possible that Sainsbury will soon reclaim the number two slot from Asda.

Recent figures from TNS gave Sainsbury a 16.2% market share,, compared with 16.6% for Asda, against last year's figures of 16.0% and 16.8% respectively.

"The sales growth announced today shows that customers are noticing the many improvements we have been making to our business," said chief executive Justin King.

"Over 16 million customers are now shopping in our stores each week, an additional one million in the last six months."

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